2017 NBA Draft: Lights shine bright on ACC Triangle-area prospects

theACC.com
theACC.com

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – The Triangle contingent of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) did its part in showcasing its talent as the Duke Blue Devils, North Carolina Tar Heels, and N.C. State Wolfpack all had early-round selections in the 2017 NBA Draft held at Barclays Center on Thursday.

The Blue Devils matched a school record with four picks as freshman Jayson Tatum (third), sophomore Luke Kennard (12th) and freshman Harry Giles (20th) were each first-round picks, while freshman Frank Jackson (31) was the first pick in the second round.

The Tar Heels celebrated First-team All-America and ACC Player of the Year Justin Jackson’s selection as the 15th player taken in the first round, while forward Tony Bradley was the 28th player selected overall.

The Wolfpack saw guard Dennis Smith selected in the first round (9th overall) by the Dallas Mavericks.

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Blue Devils feed the NBA via Coach K

Duke has had at least one player selected in 30 of 37 drafts under the direction of head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Coach K has tutored a total of 57 draft picks since taking over the Duke program in 1980, including a Draft-record 35 first-round selections.

The Blue Devils previously had four players selected in the NBA Draft in both 1986 and 1999.

The Blue Devils have produced 15 first-round picks in the last nine seasons, including at least one in each of the last seven years.

Seventeen of Duke’s last 21 draft picks have come in the first round, including 11 lottery picks.

With Tatum and Kennard coming off the board in the lottery, Duke and Coach K both increased their Draft-record totals of lottery picks to 23.

Krzyzewski on Tatum: “Jayson’s skill set and work ethic will make him a star with the Boston Celtics. His game translates to the NBA as well or better than anyone else in the draft. The Celtics are getting a humble, thoughtful, talented young man who should be able to help them right away.”

Krzyzewski on Kennard: “Luke’s skill set is a perfect fit for the modern NBA game and I’m excited to watch his promising career with the Detroit Pistons get underway. Luke is a team-first young man who should immediately be an asset to the Pistons. With his size and ability to score at all three levels, his best basketball is still ahead of him.”

Krzyzewski on Giles: “With his uplifting personality, love for the game, talent and work ethic, Harry is a joy to coach. He should prove to be a great selection for the Sacramento Kings because he is only beginning to scratch the surface of how good he can be on a basketball court. The further removed he becomes from his injuries, the more accelerated his progress toward a great NBA career will be.”

Krzyzewski on Jackson: “Frank is a great pickup for the New Orleans Pelicans. He has a bright future ahead of him. His combination of athleticism and fearlessness makes him a special player. The next step for him is to continue to develop with the Pelicans so he can maximize his exceptional potential.”

Tar Heels continue to infuse high-level talent

Jackson and Bradley were the 48th and 49th Tar Heels selected in the first-round as UNC has the most first-round selections in NBA Draft history.

The Portland Trailblazers selected Jackson, the first Tar Heel ever drafted by Portland, but according to a release from UNC Media Communications, media reports from the NBA Draft indicated that Jackson’s rights will be traded to the Sacramento Kings later on Friday.

The Los Angeles Lakers selected Bradley, but like Jackson’s situation, media reports indicated Bradley’s rights will be traded to the Utah Jazz on Friday.

Both players were the 17th and 18th Tar Heels to play for head coach Roy Williams drafted in the first round, part of a group of 29 first-round picks – 11 at Kansas and 18 at North Carolina – he has coached.

Jackson and Bradley were the 111th and 112th Tar Heels selected in the NBA Draft, third most among any school in the nation.

This is the 11th time in NBA Draft history two or more Tar Heels were picked in the first round (1977, 1984, 1987, 1991, 1995, 1998, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2012 and 2017).

Wolfpack’s shining star Smith earns his spot on stage

Smith is the highest drafted N.C. State player since Tom Gugliotta was picked sixth in the 1992 Draft by the Washington Bullets.

Smith entered college with great expectations as he was named the preseason ACC Rookie of the Year in October.

He lived up to those expectations as he ended the year by being named the ACC Freshman of the Year, the first Wolfpack player to receive the award since Hawkeye Whitney in 1977, when he shared co-Rookie of the Year honors with Duke’s Mike Gminski.

Smith is the first freshman since UNC’s Ed Cota in the 1996-97 season to lead ACC freshmen in points and assists, and the only player in ACC history to register two triple-doubles in the same season.

Adding to all that, during his only season in the ACC, he posted four 30-point performances – the most 30-point games for a freshman in league history.

About Peter Koutroumpis 1598 Articles
Peter Koutroumpis is an alumnus of the University of Toronto and Bowling Green State University. Living in the Raleigh area, he has been involved and employed in organized sport and competition as a player, official, teacher, coach, administrator, and volunteer. With more than 20 years of experience in sport event management and programming, as Owner and Managing Editor of the Triangle Sports Network, a set of online sports news sites, he provides a variety of perspectives on the amateur and professional sports landscape including the NCAA, NHL, NBA, PGA, and LPGA, and more.